Quality Assured

For today’s blog, alumnus Karl Hobley shares what made Reading special for him and how it has helped him in his chosen career.

Grad pic with the SarahsI joined the University of Reading on a chilly Sunday morning in October 2007 having moved from Coventry that day, with a load of things I clearly didn’t need to pack, into a surprisingly large but sparse room in Wantage Hall. I’d chosen Wantage because I’ve always been a bit unusual in my tastes. Many people told me they’d chosen that hall because it reminded them of their school and they’d been recommended it by other alumni, friends and family. I had none of this (it looked nothing like the school I’d been to believe me!), I just thought it looked spellbindingly beautiful. How often in life do you get to live in a place where history has been made, dramatic deaths have occurred and a few quirky traditions manage to solider on despite the passage of time and changing student tastes?

University is about far more than just your hall in first year or digs in subsequent ones however, as I was to discover. My first year wasn’t the easiest and indeed I even found my hall a hard place to live at times. Being older than almost all of my peers and having had quite different experiences, fitting in wasn’t a smooth ride. So often new students are led to believe you’ll meet your friends for life on your corridor and that every one, except you, is having the time of their lives 24/7. When you think about that rationally you realise that’s just nonsense!

Real friendships take time, facebook isn’t real life and fitting in doesn’t happen overnight. If I were speaking to the 23 year old me who started that year I’d say stop putting so much pressure on yourself and relax. Life is going to be good…and stop leaving your essays to the night before!

After starting a uni course in London aged 19 I decided to drop out and go back and improve my A levels. Because of this, I tried to take advantage of as much that the University could offer me and I’m so pleased to say I think I just about managed it. I spent five months studying in Canada experiencing Obama’s first win from just over the boarder as well as a Canadian election and constitutional crisis. For a Politics & International Relations student, short of the fall of the Berlin wall, it doesn’t get much better!

I managed to hold down a part time job at a bank in town for almost my whole four years which gave me a really lovey link into the town of Reading itself beyond the campus bubble. I trained as a peer supporter and helped run the Lib Dem Society with some amazingly talented and passionate colleagues.
Treading the boards with RUDS however has to be one of my highlights. The friends I made in that society, along with a few from my course, continue to enrich my life almost five years after graduating and I’m sure they will go on doing so.

RUSU election night pic

I can’t let a blog post about my time at uni go by though without mentioning RUSU. I was so lucky to have the privilege of being elected President in 2011. The election was the hardest won thing I’ve ever taken on but also one of the most invigorating. My friends think me completely mad but I can honestly say I’ve never felt more alive than when standing up in those hustings in Café Mondial, laying out my stump speech. As tough as the job tuned out to be, it can’t have been that bad as I’m standing for a well-known political party in the Cheltenham Borough Council elections this coming May. Studying politics was never quite enough for me, I like to live it too.

Biography
Karl Studied in the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations between 2007-2011 and spent a year as the President of RUSU following his degree. He has also served as an elected trustee of the NUS, sitting on their board for two years.

Since graduating Karl has worked for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in external affairs and leads their work on stakeholder engagement. He has also volunteered for the national gay rights charity, Stonewall, as a youth mentor.

Follow Karl at @karlhobley